Almost every bride and groom who walks down the aisle and proclaims “till death do us part” believes that the marriage they are about to enter will stand the test of time. The sad reality is that almost half of those newlyweds will be wrong and will wind up divorcing. In fact, Mississippi’s divorce rate is higher than most states, with the sixth highest divorce rate for women and the 11th highest for men. Those harsh statistics lead many couples to plan for the possibility that the marriage may in fact end, and enter into agreements that set forth how property will be divided and other issues will be addressed in that event.
How Do Prenuptial Agreements Work?
Prenuptial agreements – also known as “prenups” – are written contracts signed by couples that intend to marry or are already married. The agreement addresses the ownership and division of property in the event that the marriage breaks down, and may also involve child and spousal support. While prenuptial agreements are in no way legally mandated for marriage, they are often desired by those who enter a marriage with a significant amount of assets and are concerned about the protection of those assets in the event of divorce.
As are most contracts, the requirements and enforceability of prenuptial agreements are governed by state law. In order for a prenuptial agreement to be valid and enforceable in Mississippi, the agreement must be shown to be fair “in the execution” and that there has been “full disclosure” by each party as to all relevant information (largely financial) prior to the execution of the agreement.
This means that if it is discovered that you or your spouse did not provide accurate information or “full disclosure” in regards to assets, debts, income, pensions, or other financial or personal matters during the creation of the prenuptial agreement, a court may hold part or all of it invalid. In addition, if it is discovered that you or your spouse coerced the other to sign the agreement or if one of you capitalized on any weakness in the other in order to draft and have the agreement signed, it can be invalidated.
However, it should be noted that Mississippi courts have repeatedly rejected claims by parties seeking to avoid the consequences of a prenuptial agreement by claiming that they had not read or understood its terms. This is why it’s essential that each party enlist the aid of their own knowledgeable lawyers to help guide them through the negotiation and drafting of any prenuptial or cohabitation agreement.
Earlier this year, a bill (HB 1042) was introduced in the Mississippi House of Representatives to adopt the Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act, which addresses the varying standards for these types of agreements that have led to conflicting laws, judgments, and uncertainty about enforcement as couples move from state to state. However, the bill died on the House calendar in February.
Rushing & Guice, P.L.L.C.: Biloxi Divorce and Family Law Attorneys
If you have questions about prenuptial agreements or need assistance with drafting or review such an agreement, call the experienced and compassionate family law attorneys at Rushing & Guice at (228) 374-2313 or fill out our online form to arrange for a free, limited initial consultation. We look forward to hearing from you, and look forward to the opportunity to serve as your attorneys.
This website has been prepared by Rushing & Guice, P.L.L.C for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.